Years ago we had a massive IMAX theatre at Gateway in Durban. Unfortunately it was closed down. But SterKinekor came to the rescue this month and launched the IMAX experience once again for South Africa.
We went to Gateway this last Sunday, very excited to watch Thor on IMAX. Upon arriving at the original area where the IMAX used to be, we were redirected to cinema 18 amongst the rest of the normal cinemas. This was rather puzzling as we couldn’t figure out how there was enough space to fit it in.
Well, turns out that there isn’t enough space. SterKinekor’s new “IMAX” theatre is actually just a normal sized screen, in a normal sized theatre. All they have done is replace the traditional projector with an IMAX one – and curved the screen. Besides the tiny screen, there also seems to be some problem with the 3D, because it was blurred all around the edges. Then there were the terribly designed staircase LED’s that stop people from tripping. Instead of shining the LED’s downwards, they shine upwards right into your face. Ever looked directly into a bright blue LED? Yeah – you’re going to spend 2 hours doing that.
Being VERY disappointed with the size of the screen, I contacted the IMAX Corporation to ask how they had even certified this when it was just a rebranded standard theatre. They replied with:
Thank you for contacting IMAX Corporation. Each IMAX theatre is independently owned and operated. We have forwarded your message to our Theatre Marketing group. They will contact the Gateway IMAX location in Durban and have the theatre respond to you directly.
Maybe I am reading it wrong, but that just says to me that they have very little control over what get’s branded “IMAX”, and really don’t care as long as they are getting paid the license fees.
Over on the MyBroadband forums someone found an explanation of exactly this situation on Wikipedia:
“The digital installations have caused some controversy, as many theaters have branded their screens as IMAX after merely retrofitting standard auditoriums with IMAX digital projectors. The screen sizes in these auditoriums are much smaller than those in the purpose-built auditoriums of the original 15/70 IMAX format. These theaters charge the same premium pricing as the purpose-built IMAX theaters, resulting in consumer confusion.
Another disadvantage is the much lower resolution of digital IMAX compared to traditional IMAX film, which is estimated to be up to 12,000 × 8,700 pixels with at least 6,120 × 4,500 minimum discernible pixels (27 megapixels). Some reviewers also note that many non-IMAX theaters are already projecting films at 4K resolution, while digital IMAX has deployed both 2K and 4K products.”
But what does it all mean?
Basically, SterKinekor is charging just under R100 for a ticket to go watch a movie on a standard-size cinema screen with blurry 3D. Yes, they are just capitalizing on the IMAX brand.
Seriously, save yourself the heartbreak, go watch Thor somewhere else.
While some people are fine with the small screen, below are a few posts from the MyBroadband forum:
We went there yesterday as well. What a waste of money. As said by Roguemat, the screen is small in comparison to the previous IMAX. I Also thought it was at the old place, but was directed to the normal complex.
The screen is slightly bigger than a normal cinema screen, that’s it. Sound was good, seats were comfy. We drove all the way from Waterfall. The wife is still moaning about the money spent.
If you want to watch something in 3D, just go to the Pav or something.
Thought whole point of IMAX was the massive screen…
All original film IMAX cinema’s closed in South Africa 3 or so years ago – apparently due to poor management. Ster Kinekor has now brought IMAX back, but the crappy digital variant…
In my view, digital IMAX can’t be advertised like normal IMAX.
It’s like saying a 32″ HD Ready TV is as good as a 100″ Ultra HD TV.
I went and watched Thor at Imax, thankfully had a Edgars card so only paid R58. Still would rather have paid R15 at Musgrave, wasn’t anything special about it. Certainly won’t go back